The Memphis Grizzlies try for a fifth straight victory when they face the Charlotte Hornets in a battle of playoff contenders on Saturday night. The opening tip is scheduled for 7 pm ET at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC.
Memphis has won three straight on the road, including a rout of the Detroit Pistons on Thursday. The Grizzlies are 39-18 and in first place in the Southwest Division, leading the second-place Dallas Mavericks by 5½ games.
The Hornets snapped a six-game losing streak with an easy win of their own over the Pistons on Friday night. Charlotte improved to 29-28 and sits in second place in the Southeast Division, 7½ games behind the first-place Miami Heat and two games ahead of the third-place Atlanta Hawks.
If you want to bet online on this contest, the NBA lines have the Grizzlies as 7½-point favorites on the road, with the over/under set at 235½ points. Betting on the moneyline will get you Memphis at -330, while Charlotte is listed at +270.
The Grizzlies are looking like a solid playoff team, with the second spot in the Western Conference 2½ games away. Memphis has been one of the better road teams, joining the Phoenix Suns as the only clubs with fewer than 10 road losses.
“I think we’ve got a few things to clean up on the defensive end, but our offense is playing at such a high level that we are still able to win games,” Memphis guard Ja Morant said after Thursday’s win. “When we’ve got things going like this, it gives us all a chance to get some rest and watch the show. We just have to keep it going.”
Morant is the clear leader of the Grizzlies, earning an All-Star berth and pacing the team in scoring (26.4 points) and assists (6.8). Keeping the guard healthy is a must for Memphis, though he is unafraid to take the ball to the hoop with reckless abandon, either looking for his own shot or to draw the defense for others’ open looks.
One of those other players is guard Desmond Bane, who snapped out of a slump with 22 points in the win over the Pistons. Bane, who averages 17.6 points on the season, had scored just 12 total points on 5-of-21 shooting from the floor over the previous two games, which included 1-of-11 accuracy from beyond the arc. Against Detroit, Bane was 7-of-11 from the floor, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range.
Forward Jaren Jackson Jr. has been stepping up his offensive game of late. He had an off night against the Pistons, finishing with 12 points, but over the previous three contests, he averaged 24.3 points and 9.0 rebounds per game. He’s also a major factor on the defensive end, tying for third in the league with 2.2 blocks per game.
The Hornets have been streaky, with a pair of winning streaks of four or more games but also a pair of losing streaks of five or more. The hope is the win over the Pistons pushes the team on the positive side going forward, though it’s been very hard to tell which Charlotte team will show up from night to night.
All-Star guard LaMelo Ball has been on a tear over the last two games, averaging 32.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 4.0 steals. Ball can get hot, but he can also have some more difficult games, as he had in the previous three, averaging 14.0 points, 5.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 4.6 turnovers per contest.
Forward Miles Bridges has developed into a top scorer for the Hornets, ranking 25th in the NBA with 19.9 points per game. The 23-year-old is also averaging 7.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.1 steals per night, showing he’s more than just a flashy dunker.
The addition of center Montrezl Harrell should boost the team’s interior offense. Harrell, who came in a trade deadline deal from Washington, is averaging 14.1 points and 6.7 rebounds per game this season, and he brings some toughness to the paint that the Hornets can use.
Hornets Stay Close
Memphis is playing well, but the Hornets can get it up and down the floor in a hurry. These two teams should have quite the shootout, with Charlotte’s confidence boosted from Friday’s win helping it keep it closer than the point spread.
When doing your NBA betting, take Charlotte to cover the spread at home.